More accusations made in close Alaska Senate race

Sean Cockerham | Tribune Media Services
Sen. Lisa Murkowski vows to keep fighting until results are final at a press conference at her Anchorage campaign headquarters Wednesday, August 25, 2010, in Midtown.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Republican Alaska gubernatorial candidate Bill Walker at Election Central in downtown Anchorage, AK on Tuesday August 24, 2010.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
US Senate republican candidate Joe Miller supporter John Slone at the end of a long evening at Election Central in downtown Anchorage, AK on Tuesday August 24, 2010.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Rod Perry talks with republican Alaska Lt. gubernatorial candidate Eddie Burke at Election Central in downtown Anchorage, AK on Tuesday August 24, 2010.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
US Senate republican candidate Joe Miller talks with reporters at Election Central in downtown Anchorage, AK on Tuesday August 24, 2010.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
US Senate republican candidate Joe Miller supporters check on election results at the Snow Goose restaurant in downtown Anchorage on Tuesday August 24, 2010.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Kathleen Miller and her husband US Senate republican candidate Joe Miller cut the ceremonial first piece of cake with the help of Miller assistant Adele Morgan at the Snow Goose restaurant before walking over to the Egan Center Election Central in downtown Anchorage on Tuesday August 24, 2010.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Republican Alaska gubernatorial candidate Bill Walker at Election Central in downtown Anchorage, AK on Tuesday August 24, 2010.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
US Senate republican candidate Joe Miller his wife Kathleen and two of their children Jake and Katy Miller at the Snow Goose restaurant in downtown Anchorage on Tuesday August 24, 2010.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
US Senate republican candidate Joe Miller talks with a reporter at the Snow Goose in downtown Anchorage on Tuesday August 24, 2010.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Republican US Senate candidate Joe Miller at the Snow Goose Restaurant in downtown Anchorage on primary election night.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
US Senate republican candidate Joe Miller signs a campaign sign for supporter 10 year old Dillon Chilstrom as his younger 4 year old Evan Chilstrom looks on at the Snow Goose restaurant in downtown Anchorage on Tuesday August 24, 2010.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Kathleen Miller and her husband US Senate republican candidate Joe Miller cut the ceremonial first piece of cake with the help of Miller assistant Adele Morgan at the Snow Goose restaurant before walking over to the Egan Center Election Central in downtown Anchorage on Tuesday August 24, 2010.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
US Senate republican candidate Joe Miller supporter 4 year old Evan Chilstrom holds up a sign at the Snow Goose restaurant in downtown Anchorage on Tuesday August 24, 2010.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
US Senate republican candidate Joe Miller talks with a reporter at the Snow Goose in downtown Anchorage, AK on Tuesday August 24, 2010.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
US Senate republican candidate Joe Miller and his daughter Katy Miller look towards the election results screen at the Snow Goose restaurant in downtown Anchorage on Tuesday August 24, 2010.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Kathleen Miller and her husband US Senate republican candidate Joe Miller and supporters walk from the Snow Goose to the Egan Center Election Central in downtown Anchorage on Tuesday August 24, 2010.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
US Senate candidate Joe Miller has his photo made with his nephew Andrew Zingone at the Snow Goose in downtown Anchorage on Tuesday August 24, 2010.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
US Senate candidate Joe Miller at the Snow Goose in downtown Anchorage on Tuesday August 24, 2010.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
US Senate republican candidate Joe Miller talks to his supporters at the Snow Goose in downtown Anchorage on Tuesday August 24, 2010.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
US Senate candidate Joe Miller supporter Brian Swanson at the Snow Goose in downtown Anchorage on Tuesday August 24, 2010.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Supporters view the results at election central in the Egan Center Tuesday evening, Aug. 24, 2010.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Joe Miller supporters take a break at election central in the Egan Center Tuesday evening, Aug. 24, 2010, after a long day campaigning and waving signs for the U.S. Senate candidate.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
US Senate republican candidate Joe Miller talks with a reporter at the Snow Goose in downtown Anchorage on Tuesday August 24, 2010.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Sen. Lisa Murkowski is welcomed by supporters as she arrives at her campaign headquarters in Anchorage after the polls closed Tuesday evening, Aug. 24, 2010.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
US Senate candidate Joe Miller supporter Stuart Barnes at the Snow Goose in downtown Anchorage on Tuesday August 24, 2010.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
US Senate republican candidate Joe Miller and his wife Kathleen Miller at the Snow Goose to the Egan Center Election Central in downtown Anchorage on Tuesday August 24, 2010.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
US Senate republican candidate Joe Miller, at right, checks his iPhone for results at the Snow Goose in downtown Anchorage as Eddie Zingone and press secretary Randy DeSoto look on. Photographed on Tuesday August 24, 2010.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
US Senate candidate Joe Miller supporters at the Snow Goose in downtown Anchorage on Tuesday August 24, 2010.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Gov. Sean Parnell waves to motorists heading south along the Seward Highway in Anchorage on election day, Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2010.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Lt. Governor candidate Diane Benson and supporters in downtown Anchorage on Tuesday August 24, 2010.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Kathleen Miller and her husband US Senate republican candidate Joe Miller and supporters walk from the Snow Goose to the Egan Center Election Central in downtown Anchorage on Tuesday August 24, 2010.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Supporter Mike Wery watches for election returns Sen. Lisa Murkowski's campaign headquarters in Anchorage after the polls closed Tuesday evening, Aug. 24, 2010.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Sharon Blackbird, right, receives her voting sticker after casting a ballot wtih Linda Hobert at First Presbyterian Church Tuesday August 24, 2010 downtown.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Precinct worker Linda Hobert, left, assists Cynthia Aiken with her ballot at First Presbyterian Church Tuesday August 24, 2010 downtown.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Gov. Sean Parnell and his wife Sandy at election central in the Egan Center Tuesday evening, Aug. 24, 2010.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Lt. Gov. candidate Jay Ramras is still hopefull as he arrives at the Sen. Lisa Murkowski's campaign headquarters in Anchorage after the polls closed Tuesday evening, Aug. 24, 2010.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Rose Abraham-Nelson, right, shows daughter Laurel Nelson, 12, the voting process Tuesday August 24, 2010 at East Anchorage United Methodist Church. Laurel is a home schooled seventh grader.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Opponents of ballot measure 2 greet vehicles driving Benson Boulevard at the Seward Highway Tuesday morning August 24, 2010 in Midtown.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Ralph Samuels solicits votes along Minnesota Drive at Benson Boulevard Tuesday morning August 24, 2010 in west Anchorage.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Supporters watch election returns on a big screen television at Sen. Lisa Murkowski's campaign headquarters in Anchorage after the polls closed Tuesday evening, Aug. 24, 2010.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Gubernatorial candidate Ethan Berkowitz campaigned along the Seward Highway in Anchorage on election day, Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2010.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Sylvia Kaderman, right, receives her voting sticker from Art Wolff after casting her ballot Tuesday August 24, 2010 at East Anchorage United Methodist Church.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Audra Dressler solicits votes for Bill Walker from the median of the Seward Highway at Benson Boulevard Tuesday morning August 24, 2010 in Midtown.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Roy Burkhart and his wife June wait for election returns at Sen. Lisa Murkowski's campaign headquarters in Anchorage after the polls closed Tuesday evening, Aug. 24, 2010.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Bernadette Wilson, campaign manager for Yes on 2, attaches balloons to their signs to help separate them from candidate signs along the Seward Highway in Anchorage on election day, Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2010.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
U.S. House candidate Sheldon Fisher campaigned along the Seward Highway in Anchorage on election day, Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2010.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
The Hollis French and Lisa Murkowski campaigns share a corner along the Seward Highway at Benson Boulevard Tuesday morning August 24, 2010 in Midtown.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Sen. Lisa Murkowski is welcomed by supporters as she arrives at her campaign headquarters in Anchorage after the polls closed Tuesday evening, Aug. 24, 2010.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Sen. Lisa Murkowski speaks with supporter Marty Weeks at her campaign headquarters in Anchorage after the polls closed Tuesday evening, Aug. 24, 2010.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Sign wavers swarm corners and the median in and around the Seward Highway at Northern Lights Boulevard Tuesday morning August 24, 2010 in Midtown.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
A parked SUV advertises support for Mead Treadwell along the Seward Highway Tuesday morning August 24, 2010 in Midtown.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Sen. Lisa Murkowski supporters campaign from a convertible driven south on Seward Highway in Anchorage on election day, Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2010.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
US Senate republican candidate Joe Miller, at right, talks with supporters including Greg Pugh of Wasilla, at the Snow Goose in downtown Anchorage on Tuesday August 24, 2010.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Rose Abraham-Nelson, left, walks daughter Laurel Nelson, 12, through the voting process as she casts her ballot Tuesday August 24, 2010 at East Anchorage United Methodist Church. Laurel is a home schooled seventh grader.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Kaitlyn Torino, 3, shares voting booth space with aunt Vickie Castro at First Presbyterian Church Tuesday August 24, 2010 downtown.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
A sign beckons voters out of the warm sunshine at First Presbyterian Church Tuesday August 24, 2010 downtown.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Gov. Sean Parnell greets traffic along the Seward Highway Tuesday August 24, 2010 in Midtown.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Joe Miller supporters campaigned along the Seward Highway in Anchorage on election day, Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2010.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Gubernatorial candidate Bill Walker, blue shirt, campaigned along the Seward Highway in Anchorage on election day, Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2010.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Lt. Gov. candidate Mead Treadwell campaigned along the Seward Highway in Anchorage on election day, Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2010.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Lt. Gov. candidate Mead Treadwell campaigned along the Seward Highway in Anchorage on election day, Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2010.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Supporters for gubernatorial candidate Hollis French wave campaign signs from the top of a dog truck parked in the Sears parking lot along the Seward Highway in Anchorage on election day, Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2010.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Campaigning along the Seward Highway in Anchorage on election day, Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2010.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Hollis French greets traffic along the Seward Highway Tuesday, August 24, 2010 in Midtown.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
A trucker is greeted by a jumble of signs along the Seward Highway at Northern Lights Boulevard Tuesday morning August 24, 2010 in Midtown.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Congressman Don Young supporters campaigned along the Seward Highway in Anchorage on election day, Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2010.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Lt. Gov. candidate Jay Ramras of Fairbanks campaigns along the Seward Highway in Anchorage on election day, Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2010.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News
Signs and a freight sled are displayed in support of Joe Miller along the Seward Highway at Northern Lights Boulevard Tuesday morning August 24, 2010 in Midtown.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Campaigning along the Seward Highway in Anchorage on election day, Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2010.
BILL ROTH / Anchorage Daily News

There were more allegations by the Joe Miller campaign of ballot-counting monkey business on Saturday as the absentees continue to pour into the Alaska Division of Elections. State elections officials now say there are 23,472 ballots to process, with more coming, and the first count set for Tuesday.

Miller currently leads Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski by 1,668 votes in the Republican primary.

Miller campaign spokesman Randy DeSoto said in an e-mail Saturday that there are many calls going out to Alaskans who voted absentee ballots, asking them who they voted for in the primary.

DeSoto said his basis for making that assertion is that a woman contacted the Miller campaign about getting a call, that such a call was brought up in the comment section of a story on the Daily News website, and that several people had called an Anchorage talk radio show to say they've received such calls.

"I believe, and time will prove it, (the calls) are being done for nefarious purposes," DeSoto said in the e-mail. "It is definitely not being done by the Joe Miller campaign. It is being done, I believe, by the National Republican Senatorial Committee or someone they contracted with as the beginning of a legal battle to throw out ballots."

It is public information who requests absentee ballots. Both the Murkowski campaign and the National Republican Senatorial Campaign on Saturday denied making calls to absentee voters.

"Bottom line, we're not making phone calls to anyone, and we have told both campaigns that whomever is chosen by the voters of Alaska to be their nominee, that candidate will have our full support," said NRSC Communications Director Brian Walsh.

Walsh said he wasn't aware of anyone else making such calls. He said the single NRSC lawyer sent to Alaska to assist Murkowski with the ballot count, Sean Cairncross, returned to Washington, D.C., on Saturday after 72 hours in the state. "This has been much ado about nothing," he said.

Murkowski campaign manager John Bitney said Saturday he's heard that calls are being made to people who voted absentee but doesn't know anything more. "We're not doing it, we are not doing it," Bitney said. "I don't know who is doing it."

The Miller campaign did not have evidence on Saturday that it was the NRSC or the Murkowski campaign making calls. Miller spokesman DeSoto said he was working on getting details, including coming up with contact information for absentee voters who received calls asking how they voted.

"I guess this has been forwarded on to some people on our team and Dan Fagan has looked at it and said, 'Yeah, this does not sound right.'... We have to find the truth of the matter; it's something that's been brought to our attention," he said.

Several people called the Dan Fagan talk radio show in Anchorage on Friday to say they voted absentee and have received calls asking who they voted for. One man, who was identified as Brian, said the caller identified themselves as being from the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee. Another, Arnie, could not recall the full name but said that it included the words "Republican National." Another, Ryan, said the caller identified themselves as from the "something information group." Fagan, who asserted on his show he had sources confirming this was being done as an effort to challenge absentee ballots for Miller, on Saturday evening did not immediately return a cell message and an e-mail.

The Alaska Division of Elections is currently validating the absentee and question ballots, which are in sealed envelopes with information about the voter in the front. Elections officials compare the information on the envelope to that in the state voter system to determine if the person was eligible to cast the ballot. Envelopes for absentee ballots are also reviewed to make sure the voter requested a ballot, that a witness signed it, and that it was postmarked by last Tuesday, the primary election day.

Both campaigns have observers watching the process who can raise issues to elections officials about whether the ballot should be disqualified. The Miller campaign said information on which absentee voters cast their ballots for Miller might be used in an attempt to disqualify those votes. Murkowski campaign manager Bitney questioned how realistic it would be to pull that off.

The NRSC, while it helps Republican challengers in some races, is set up to protect the seats of Republican incumbents.

Miller had earlier accused the NRSC of trying to manipulate the outcome of the race by sending lawyer Cairncross to Alaska. "You have to be concerned anytime somebody lawyers up and tries to pull an Al Franken, if you will," Miller said on Friday, referring to the 2008 ballot recount ballot between then-Sen. Norm Coleman and the Democrat who beat him, Franken. "We are very aware that there may be some attempt here to skew the results. I hope that is not the case."

Murkowski had described that statement as "paranoid." Murkowski had suggested Miller had first "lawyered" up by hiring Sarah Palin's attorney, Tom Van Flein of Anchorage, to review the process.

Miller campaign spokesman DeSoto said NRSC is apparently now sending Mike Roman, who worked on the 2008 ballot recount for then-Sen. Coleman, to Alaska to work for Murkowski. Murkowski campaign manager Bitney said Roman is a private elections consultant who doesn't work for the NRSC, and he is coming to Alaska at Bitney's request. Roman is founder of Election Journal, which describes itself as an "online community dedicated to raising public awareness of vote fraud and election irregularities." The Election Journal site calls Roman a veteran political consultant and private investigator.

THREE MORE COUNTS COMING

The Division of Elections said Saturday that it had 23,472 ballots to process so far. Most are expected to be cast for the Republican primary race between Miller and Murkowski, but a portion will be for the Democratic primary instead.

The tally includes 13,740 absentee votes, out of a reported 16,000 absentee ballots that had been requested. There are another 9,069 questioned ballots, some of which will be disqualified. Elections officials said there are also 663 early votes that still need to be counted.

The Division of Elections said it will determine Monday how many of the votes will be tallied in Tuesday's initial count.

Subsequent counts are scheduled for Sept. 3 and Sept. 8.

Find Sean Cockerham online at adn.com/contact/scockerham or call him at 257-4344.

More on the primary election
By SEAN COCKERHAM
scockerham@adn.com